Thursday, 17 December 2009

Almost every year on the first Sunday in January, someone asks at church if we have made New Year resolutions and, if so, what they were.

Every year I think, ooh what a good idea – but haven’t made any resolutions, and then my mind goes blank; and apart from vague aspirations towards slimming, nothing occurs.

So I thought this year I’d think about it in advance, and accumulate a few resolutions for 2010. So far I have 3.

I read a thing once that Wayne Dyer said. He explained that psychologists assert that human beings are not capable of doing things they think are not good. They might do things they think would be bad if someone else did them, or think they do it only because they have no choice, or that the exceptional circumstances make it the right thing to do this time only – but they will always convince themselves that what they are doing is, at least on this one occasion, good. So Wayne Dyer said that people – even quite abhorrently awful people – are always doing the best they are capable of with the information they have at the present time, however deeply flawed their reasoning. People change by enlightenment, by embracing a different conceptualization. How the Bible puts it is: ‘Be ye not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds’. So berating and accusing never works; only new understanding changes things, and people are always more open to new understanding when they feel safe and relaxed rather than defensive and under attack. My first resolution is to hold in mind that all people are always doing the best they know with the information they currently have. I hope this will help me to criticize less, blame less, and go my way in a more peaceful manner.

Trees are vital to human wellbeing and the future of Planet Earth. There’s a DiscWorld novel which involves a special book that is believed to be precious because through this Book people will be saved. I haven’t read this story, only had it recounted to me, but I understand that there comes a point in the narrative where two characters are stranded at night in the open, very cold. The only thing they can do to keep warm is burn the book. So it turns out their salvation was indeed in the book – but not in the way they think. I’m really interested in the Christian tradition of referring to the Cross as ‘the Tree’. It’s seen as a Tree of Life because of Jesus’ life-giving sacrifice. Crucifixes depict Christ’s passion & death, and so create a legacy of an image showing salvation as a man who stands for the whole human race pinned firmly to a saving Tree. And that’s oddly true for everyone without exception whether they believe in the Christian gospel or not. It’s still true that our future is pinned to the future of the tree: without trees, people have no hope. The Man and the Tree – in that union is salvation. So my second resolution is wherever I can to make choices that support the continuing existence and well-being of trees. I am going to make nut roasts a lot, and eat nuts for snacks. I’m going to choose fruit that grows on trees – apples, pears, cherries, plums, bananas, dates, figs. Some essential oils come from trees without harming the tree, I think; and same with maple syrup. So we can develop a tree-friendly home. We’re going to plant in our garden three apple trees and a pear tree, a silver birch and a walnut tree. There’s going to be a Michael tree too, for Grace’s child (my grandson). This was a thought of his father, Clay; to have a tree in a pot that would grow alongside the child, eventually to be planted out when they can afford their own place. Tony is going to start donating to tree-planting organizations because of the carbon emissions from his necessary car travel while he still works in Oxford. I will try to find out about firewood sources that come from coppiced woodland – there’s lots of it in Sussex, and though it involves cutting a tree down, it’s part of a managed cycle that protects the future of the woodlands. You can buy BBQ charcoal sourced in the same way, from local woodlands, here.

I have my usual general aim – to explore more deeply into simplicity. The last few years I was concentrating on cutting down my possessions and taking up less space; also on using less electricity and gas (thermos cooking etc). I did quite well. There were some BIG decisions, like moving to live in a shared home, and not running a car. Recently I bought an electric machine for making my tea in the morning while Tony is away. That didn’t fit the general programme! I’m not sure I’ll keep it over time, but I’m certainly appreciating it at the moment! But for my third resolution, this year I’d like to concentrate on developing a life that uses less and less money. My life here in Hastings is part of my response to the Word of the Spirit within me when I asked the question (repeatedly, over about 2-3 years) ‘What was I sent here to do?’ Though writing books fits in with what I was sent here to do, because I was sent to teach and guide and share the things I notice, I was also sent for a ministry of love and kindness, making a home where people are welcomed and sheltered, encouraged and healed. That’s a groovy ministry, but there’s not much money in it – so it’s important I now start to learn how to live with very little money. Up to now, though I’ve lived simply, I haven’t been especially careful with money – just earned more when I needed more. I don’t use up a lot of money by general modern standards, but there’s a lot of margin for shrinking that right down – so it will be an interesting experiment.

Well, those are my resolutions so far. Maybe I’ll think of some more, but real ones, not pointless ones just to make up a list.


Julie B. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Pen Wilcock said...


Dearest Penelope, I was thrilled to find your blog and have enjoyed perusing it. The theme of simplicity has struck a deep chord in me, and your thoughts and photos on this have been welcome and also (unfortunately) a bit foreign. I would like to write a long e-mail to you to tell you some things about The Hawk and the Dove and its mark on our book club, but couldn't find a way to reach you on your blog other than leaving a comment. I hope you'll jot me a note so I can write more in depth to you. Thank you so much for your writing - I just finished The Clear Light of Day - and loved it. Blessings to you and yours...

17 December 2009 04:40


Ganeida said...

I don't do resolutions but I do like the tree one. ☺ We are lucky in that gums drop a lot of timber & it burns long & hot. When I want a fire I just trot round the yard & collect all the deadwood.

I have your book on simplicity on my Christmas wish~list. I will get such a thrill knowing the money is being used to fix your house! lol

Pen Wilcock said...

Ganeida, that's fab!! I will have one patch of the roof immortalised as your contribution forever! Because there is such a wonderful frugality culture among the Christian fraternity, it's actually quite hard to make a living as a Christian writer - folks borrow books, but they don't buy them - or they buy one and lend it all round the church (as they delight in telling me!!!) I wrote four books this year, biggest output ever, because I took the plunge and deleted other occupations. I'm now waiting with bated breath because if they don't sell, next year I shall be an ex-writer!! So 'namaste' and thank you my dear!